What’s My Genre?

January 3rd, 2012

As I get ready to start the submission to agent process in the next couple of months, I realized I hit a bit of a stumbling block: genre! Yes, I know when that magical time comes that I have an agent and an editor they will know best where to file my book — but at the same time, I need to have some idea of what my genre is for when I query agents. I don’t want to be THAT PERSON who queries 500 agents blindly without knowing what genres they do and don’t represent. I’ve done my research, baby.

However, that still leaves me with the question of what in tarnation do I call this thing? Fantasy? Paranormal Romance? Urban Fantasy? It’s So Good It Doesn’t NEED A Genre? Well… maybe not so much with the last one. Ahem.

The problem is, my book has a lot of elements of ALL those genres.

I’ve read on a lot of sites that, right now, paranormal and dystopian are a hard sell. Well, don’t care that much about dystopian as that’s not what I’m writing. However, I don’t know if I’d classify a book about magic and sorcerers as paranormal — it’s more of a fantasy book. BUT! on the other hand — my book does have romantic elements in it as one of the main plotlines… which doesn’t exactly follow fantasy either in my experience.

I also realize that calling it a paranormal fantasy romance would make me look like a right idiot trying to throw the manuscript and all the genres at the wall and hoping something would stick.

Tonight I was doing some reading over at the Query Tracker Forums and I came across a few interesting threads regarding genre — namely, one I hadn’t thought of: Urban Fantasy. I always had a preconceived notion that urban fantasy was the gritty fantasy set in the middle of a city… like, something that would be set in Harlem, NYC. Reading this thread, however, gave me a whole new appreciation for this genre.

In general, it seems like “paranormal” is generally applied to paranormal romances. Those are stories where the plot revolves around the failure or success of a relationship, so the conflicts and complications come from the interpersonal dynamics between the main characters. Urban fantasies can definitely have romantic elements, but in those stories, the main characters are generally teamed up and working together to overcome some outside obstacle bigger than their relationship.

An easy way to think of the difference is to ask yourself, “Are my main characters opposed and working hard to get together, or are they together and working hard to face an outside opposition?” — LisaAnn

I think I’m in love with this litmus test.

Urban Fantasy does have that little requirement of having a contemporary, real-world, urban setting (as opposed to Fantasy’s wholly imagined landscape), but I think most of us tend to have a sort of real-world setting… even if that real-world is imagined. Hm… a bit of a double-edged sword there, isn’t it? Don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t call LORD OF THE RINGS an urban fantasy novel, but I know I’d call THE FEVER SERIES (by Karen Marie Moning) a UF.

Looking at my plot, yes there are romantic elements in it — but in the end they’ll be working together to face an outside opponent. The romantic elements aren’t all there is to the story. A large part? Yeah, I’d say so — but the ultimate end is defeating the bad guy rather than the romance elements of “together-break-up-together-break-up-together-forever”… thing.

Of course, you read another blog and they say that urban fantasy is something dark and gritty — like how I initially pictured Urban Fantasy to be. *throws up hands*

Maybe it is time to throw a bunch of things at the wall and see what sticks.

One Response to “What’s My Genre?”

  1. Jenny says:

    Yay! My thread helped someone! UF makes as much sense as anything for your story, I think. I’m fairly certain anyone reading your query (which is very nice BTW) will be able to pick up on the Arthurian fantasy elements :)

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